Within 15 minutes... nine of my squad members were killed

Back in the rear after a month in the bush.

I arrived in Vietnam in March of 1967 as a replacement rifleman and was assigned to Mike Company 3rd Battalion 1st Marines. For my first 6 months, I patrolled villages in and around the area just South of the DaNang Air base engaging Vietcong and local insurgents who were intent on destroying the airfield.

In November of 1967, our Battalion was assigned to Special Landing Bravo aboard the Navy 7th Fleet . We proceeded North to the DMZ where we participated in numerous large scale operations engaging hard core North Vietnamese Army regulars. I had been promoted to Sgt. E-5 and led a platoon of Marines which were desperately reduced in numbers due to heavy casualties.

On the morning of January 31, 1968, the beginning of the infamous TET Offensive, my former squad was selected to lead the assault into a village on the Cua Viet river near the DMZ. Within 15 minutes that morning, 9 of my squad members were killed by heavy enemy gun fire. In the next few months I managed to work my way through that terrible time and in March of that year I returned home. I remained in the Marine Corps for another 18 months and in April of 1969, I was discharged. I married my high school sweetheart and began my career and had a family.

I will never forget my fallen Marines and have spent my life reaching out to families of those who never returned home.

Joe Wadlow
Pittsburgh North Side, PA